Wine lovers whose lust for the grape isn’t satisfied at local wine shops and grocery stores, start planning your trip to the Northwest’s largest wine store. Owner David LeClaire plans to open the 23,000-square-foot superstore Wine World at 400 NE 45th St. in Wallingford by Thanksgiving.
We toured the space, most recently an OfficeMax, with LeClaire while he and workers hurried to prepare the store for its new cork flooring, which will be installed this week.
The enormous store will “blow people away,” LeClaire said. “There’s nothing like what we’re doing in the Northwest.” With its location right off I-5, LeClaire intends for his Wine World to attract oenophiles from all over Puget Sound and beyond.
Northwest wines will take center stage at Wine World; they’ll occupy the entire west section of the store, in front of the dark purple wall pictured above. Along both sides of that purple wall will be tasting bars where wineries will pour samples five nights a week, as well as during the day on weekends. A large area to the right side of the store will be devoted to cheeses, charcuterie, chocolates and flowers.
On the north, pumpkin-colored wall will be beers and a cooler for wine. The green wall will be reserved for eco-friendly wines. The north side of the store will house high-end bottles in a reserve cellar, which will include vanity lockers, lounge chairs and a cigar humidor. The reserve cellar door will be locked because “you don’t want college students stashing a $400 bottle in their backpack,” LeClaire said.
This is the area for wines from outside the Northwest.
An event room (pictured above) with views to the south and west takes up half of the south side of the space. Part of that room will be a curtained “owners lounge” for LeClaire’s 14 investors (and counting) who have funded the $1.4 million venture. In the future, LeClaire plans to add a demo kitchen to the event space.
If either Initiative 1100 or 1105 passes and he can sell hard liquor, LeClaire has set aside space for artisan and harder-to-find liquors, he said. He would plan to leave the bulk sales of less expensive liquor to Costco. Of the initiatives, he said, “It’ll help us if either one passes, but 1100 would be best for us because we’d get a quantity discount on wine and beer as well as hard liquor.”
LeClaire is blunt about the biggest problem he anticipates with the new store — traffic, specifically shoppers trying to turn east on N. 45th after leaving the store: “You could have a great experience here, then wait for 10 minutes at that stop sign and never want to come back.” He said that his staff will educate customers to drive from the parking lot north of the store (where there will be 36 spaces of free parking for Wine World) down the alley to get to 5th Ave. NE.
Good luck making a left turn onto N. 45th St. from this intersection. Take the alley behind Wine World instead, David LeClaire advises.
Since the news first broke that the massive wine store would open in Wallingford, we’ve heard fear for the smaller neighborhood stores such as City Cellars, a half mile to the east at 1710 N. 45th St. LeClaire would like to put any worries to rest: “City Cellars is a nice little wine store, but it’s not a destination. Neighborhood places will still serve the neighborhood; what we’ll do is draw people from all over.”
LeClaire pictures shoppers strolling through the store’s wide aisles, sipping a glass of wine, and taking their time with the excursion. “We want it to be like Ace Hardware meets Home Depot — a huge selection with service,” he said. “The idea is people won’t be overwhelmed, and they’ll feel they were helped. It’s not just shopping for wine, it’s an experience.”
Wine World will be open seven days a week till from 10 or 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.